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#210 Diane Gagnon, Class of 2007, Staff
(AA in Early Childhood Early Childhood Specialist)

When my son graduated from High School I decided it was time for me to go back to school. I started in the summer and took an English class. Writing essays was quite a bit different from when I had graduated in 1978; I used a typewriter back then. My class had several exchange students so our professor was very patient in teaching us how to use our computers to write a proper paper.

When I took my Early Childhood Education classes, my lab was done at the McCarthy Center here on the COD campus. I had an wonderful Mentor teacher, Rena Maddox. She was an incredible inspiration and had me look at Early Childhood in an entirely different way. How blessed I am. I am doubly blessed to have Rena Maddox as a co-teacher. She continues to inspire me and push me to go further with my goals and ideas for children.

The McCarthy Center is a fabulous learning and "hands-on" environment for the children in our community. The staff works together with parents to enrich the lives of each child.

Each class sets up activities according to children's interests both indoors and outdoors. This is a wonderful opportunity for me as a teacher to continue to learn and grow along with my toddlers.

I have changed from being a teacher that had a very busy primary color classroom into a teacher that realizes that neutral colors and natural materials are more appealing to toddlers. Children learn from their own environment so using items found in our environment are familiar to children.

Thank you to COD for not only a wonderful education, but an incredible place to work, that allows me to continue to grow in my wonderful and ever changing field of Early Childhood Education.

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Donna Greene

#209 Donna Greene, Staff
(Faculty)

I got my start at a community college following my divorce. As a single mother, working full time and going to school was difficult. I made it through because the faculty and staff at community colleges like College of the Desert (COD) are here to help change lives. Now, many years later, I am a proud faculty member of COD, changing the lives of my students. I couldn't ask for a better job or a better life! Thank you, COD!

Samantha Mendez

#208 Samantha Mendez, Student
(Intern, McCarthy Child Development Center Student, pursuing AA in Early Childhood Education)

I have been working at the McCarthy Center for a year now. I work as an intern in the Hummingbird's preschool classroom. In the year that I have been working there I have learned A LOT. I believe the Center has helped and prepared me very much for the future. I would recommend the Center to parents who are looking for a place for their young children to attend. And also to other COD students looking for a job opportunity while also taking classes because the Center is very flexible with student's schedules.

Christiana  Peter

#207 Christiana Peter, Transfer to Cal State -SB, Student
(Early Childhood Education)

College of the Desert and the McCarthy Child Development & Training Center at

College of the Desert have been tremendously helpful for the continuation of my education. My Professors are my mentors and teachers, helping me to go up the ladder of the final stage of my education; particularly in my career in Early Childhood Education. I really appreciate the free loan book program. It is through this program that I am able to complete my education. I was thinking my education was over; but, through this book program it rekindled and restarted my life. And I want to say thank you from the bottom my heart. I have no words or ways to explain my gratitude other than to go out and help others as I have been helped.

It is a privilege for me to have an opportunity to have interaction and also to watch children during interactive learning during play. I was astonished to see how smart these children are when they are playing and interacting with one another and the teachers. I have an opportunity to be in the two year old classroom. I was astonished to see how well they demonstrated how their teachers take care of them in the class; and when playing with their dolls pretending to be mothers, as well as demonstrating how their parents make a cup of coffee. The two year olds showed sincerity and sympathy to their dolls as their teachers do with them in the classroom and on the playground.

I also enjoy having an opportunity to monitor the four year olds during activity. I was amazed to see how much energy they possess while they cheerfully used blocks to build houses with rooms, including yards for their animals. They also built barns for their animals and fences to keep them safe. To me, watching children learning through play is amazing. Last but not the least is to watch them comfortably eat and see them enjoy their meals. Please come and bring your children and support the excellence and atmosphere of learning through play at the McCarthy Child Development & Training Center.

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Sandra Shaw

#206 Sandra Shaw, Student, Staff
(ECE Specialist and student.)

I graduated from Palm Springs High School in 1970. I went to Northern Arizona University and graduated with a BA in Elementary Education/Learning Disabilities. I traveled around the world for 17 years with my Air Force husband, living in six states and three countries. During our traveling years I began working in early childhood centers, and discovered that THIS was my passion and avocation. In July of 1991, I moved back to Palm Springs to be with my family and the familiar and comforting San Jacinto mountains. Within a few days of returning I read in The Desert Sun about a new Child Development Center that had opened on the COD campus. I dropped by in between summer sessions, spoke to the director and began working at the center in September 1991. As they say in clichés all over the world “I was home”.

During the next ten years, I took ECE classes, became a mentor teacher for the ECE lab students, worked as the assistant director, supervised the evening program, and was interim director for three months. In 2001 I went to teach Kindergarten in a private school, still here in the desert. While teaching Kindergarten, I continued being a mentor for the ECE program as well as an adjunct faculty for COD.

In 2013, my career took another turn and I thought retirement was a “good idea”. And it was, for about a year. Then lo and behold I once again stopped in at the now McCarthy Family Child Care Center and spoke again to the Director, and in January 2014 came back to my old stomping grounds as a long-term sub in the Toddler program. I became full-time, permanent Toddler Teacher in September and have had the added joy of working in the new ECE building that also has two new "state of the art", toddler classrooms! I am currently a student taking a long missed ECE class. Talk about full-circle! And it only took 23 years! WELCOME HOME!

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